If there is someone who knows how difficult it is to be James Bond, that is Simon Waterson: has been the personal trainer of James Bond for 22 years, in addition to having trained 16 girls Bond and to many more cast members during his tenure as 007.
When we talk, Daniel Craig, whom Waterson has trained through all the years of Craig like the famous spy, he had just been featured on our cover. What Waterson He saw when he looked at that cover was an embodiment of his coaching ethos: “It seemed obtainable and ‘whoa’ and natural – that he was the product of what he does.”
As for the “Calvin Klein” male body ideal, Waterson believes it focuses more on appearance than function, and that can be terrible for people’s mental health. “People are too strict with themselves and don’t give themselves enough breathing space to enjoy themselves and the fruits of life,” says Waterson. “If you want to look like these people, your life is basically over. You will look great, but you will feel terrible. It is a difficult message to give people.”
Always diligent, the former royal marine was heading to his personal gym when we spoke in the first weeks of lockdown, which he adjusts to be exactly the same as his clients’ gym, regardless of the time difference. Having trained everyone from Chris Pratt to Donald Glover, Waterson knows his way of building an action star, and a lot of that, he says, is because Craig, one of the best Bond, established exactly what that looks like today. “Whether it’s Marvel characters or someone saying, ‘Well, if he does it, we have to do it,’ I think he did set a precedent,” Waterson said. “He raised the bar and everyone else followed.”
Pierce Brosnan, whom Waterson trained for his last two 007 outings, was a Bond very different: “more dashing and elegant,” he explained. Then came Craig and had a different approach: “Daniel always has a clear vision of what he wants and how to evolve the character physically and mentally,” explained Waterson. “With Casino Royale, it was quite big, imposing, shocking: ‘I can do this. The idea of physiology as part of character building isn’t new to film, but the way athletics can inform the character is something that coaches are increasingly incorporating into the actor’s process: Jason Walsh, who coached to Brie Larson for Captain Marvel He told us that fitness is now “part of the character arc.” Actors are now expected to be both athletes and actors: Joivan Wade said that when he auditioned for Doom Patrol, his body was as much examined as his ability to thrill. What Waterson has been doing is, in many ways, the original version: He has long developed a process that takes literally the lessons of the sports world and applies them to how actors can survive and sustain themselves during filming.
We asked him how the training of Craig from Casino Royale until -although he had to keep quiet- his last outing in No Time To Die.
A special agent’s style: Daniel Craig seizing the look with denim.
© Franco Origlia
Before Casino Royale
“As a former military man, I think I was in a unique position to understand the discipline, mental strength, and stamina required to train and become the quintessential cinematic super spy, James Bond. Luckily, Dan doesn’t skimp on hard work, so I designed a show that was diverse and suited to the role of Bond, pushing him to his limits and beyond, as the character demands. “
“Dan had briefed me on his goals and was determined to get down to business. No stone was left unturned in terms of developing speed, strength, endurance, and a sharp, focused mind. I am very picky about details, so posture, definition, movement, and confidence were top of the list. I also wanted functional muscles – there’s no use having big muscles if they can’t be used beneficially, such as accelerating over the shoulder. terrain, climb, jump and fight. “
“The workouts were a mix of powerlifting, with many compound exercises. This allows you to work very hard with heavy weights, and because it is so intense your heart rate rises. So not only do you work on building good lean muscle tissue, but you also do a bit of cardio and keep your body fat low.
“After a few sessions, it was clear that Dan was a tough, athletic guy, so I decided that the way to get the best results was to add a motivating element, that is, competition. I always recommend that if you can train with a buddy is ten times easier, so instead of training him, we train together, pushing each other a little more.
“After a few months of training, Dan was lifting and performing like an athlete. He was totally focused on what he wanted and had the discipline on my part to help him execute it. Even now, I still can’t believe the physical changes he achieved. That goes to show that with willpower and dedication you can achieve anything “.
De Casino Royale a Quantum Of Solace
“If you have incredible athletic performance, your aesthetics look great thanks to performance. We never train for aesthetics, but for athletics. Nothing about your appearance is that conscious; it’s about what you have to do on a daily basis.”
“The workouts changed because the required performance changed. Quantum of Solace there would be more cardiovascular and agility work so that he could get up and off the ground, jump around corners, jump out of windows, and get in and out of cars with ease. Everything becomes faster and more efficient. The nature of that performance then has a caloric drain on the body, which means that the body would lose weight because you have kept your nutrition very similar. As long as your performance outweighs your effort, you might lose a few pounds and look a little leaner, more athletic. “
Daniel Craig watch
De Quantum Of Solace a Skyfall
“All my workouts are relevant to what Daniel you are going to have to do, for what they are going to ask you in terms of stunts and to represent speed. It’s about breaking down the script, seeing what you have to do, be it rushing up stairs, stepping over railings, rolling, getting up and off the ground very quickly, the choreography of the fights, and then on the room I try to condition those sequences in training “.
“I take things from different professional sports, be it rugby (good for the ground and feet, those exercises are fantastic), soccer and boxing (fast feet, fast hands, hand-eye coordination, great for sprinting, but also to get a gun out of a holster without thinking), just creating all those nifty sequences and patterns that make the body move really efficiently. As long as we condition it over and over again: sprint exercises, cones, jumps, all those Then he goes to the stunt room, where he is given the confidence that his body is capable of doing the things it has to do. There he does his choreography and then he goes to do it. “
From Skyfall to Specter
The Bond that revitalized the franchise.
© Jan Hetfleisch via Getty Images
“The same principles still work: break down the script, see what’s relevant, and train for the one that’s important. You never know what sequences are going to be there, like running around Westminster, things in pools, scaffolding overhead, rooftops, jumping. by bike. You have to get in good basic physical shape and then micromanage the little things that seem simple, but it’s always the little things that surprise you: things like a staircase and then walking through a door. sprint in the middle of a fight scene. Or do a fight scene in a confined space. Again, everything is fine as long as you break things down. There is a bit of aesthetics in Spectre Also: go from high-octane scenes to opening the door shirtless. You still want to feel that you have confidence, that you are portraying that correctly too. “
De Spectre a No Time To Die
Daniel Craig in Specter
© Susie Allnutt
“From film to film, lenses change with age, so the process takes a little longer. Which took six to eight months to Casino, it takes seven to eight months the next time, and so on, until you get to No Time To Die, where it is already a little older and the process lasts more than a year “.
“There were a lot of different elements and content in that movie. We focused mainly on agility. It’s all movement, natural body movements, it’s not about how much weight you can move and all that stuff. It’s about how you move and feel. That’s the main thing, especially with the content of the movie: movement, speed, agility and processing things very quickly.
“When it comes to making the movie and shooting it, that’s very, very hard. Most of the work you’ve done in preparation, so when you get to the shoot you’re ready to go and a lot of it is maintenance and recovery and refueling like an athlete would. An athlete would have a preseason, a season, and a postseason, and that’s how we work. We have the same protocols, and as you probably know, I’ve drawn a lot of parallels with the athletic world and use them. in the world of cinema. The only difficult thing is that athletes-footballers, NFL players- have much more recovery. They play on a Saturday and then have Sunday / Monday off. We don’t have that. We try to recharge or stretch periodically during the day to be preventive.
“I’ve done a lot of movies and there are very few people who can do this kind of thing. We always watch from the outside – this is what they get paid for and they charge a lot to do – but it’s brutal. Either way. Bond, Mission Impossible O Bourne it’s hard work from six in the morning to six in the afternoon, six days a week for six or eight months. We are always constantly evolving, but you have to train for your age. It is not about breaking any records. That’s it – it’s all about health and wellness. The most important thing when you get older is to make sure you have a good recovery and good nutrition. Recovery is the treatments, but also the rest, nap and sleep phases and making sure you’re getting what’s right in your body. “
Article originally published in GQ UK.
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Daniel Craig and his training for all James Bond movies